LONDON is calling South Yunderup local Brad Ness as he prepares to take part in his fourth Paralympics from August 29.
As captain of the 2008 Beijing Olympic gold medal-winning wheelchair basketball squad, 37-year-old Ness said he is getting excited this time round.
“With the Olympics on now it’s all starting to sink in,” he said.
At home for a five-week break after a competition in Sydney Ness will jet out on August 11 to prepare for the Paralympic Games.
“Travel is a massive factor in the sport,” he said.
“If it’s a big season internationally we could play up to 80 games a year.”
Ness was a talented young footballing prospect as a teenager before a boating accident at the age of 18 severed his right foot.
Working as a deckhand aboard a high-speed ferry between Rottnest Island and Fremantle, Ness said it was a complete accident.
“We were preparing to leave the pier when the skipper thought he heard me calling ‘all clear’, but the rope I was attending was still attached to the quayside,” he said.
“When the ferry moved out, the rope tightened and sliced off my right ankle.”
Showing his true character, Ness refused to left the injury ruin his dream of playing sport professionally and returned to the football field before he was talent scouted for the sport of wheelchair basketball.
“I played a game of footy for my old club side and they did an article on it and a guy in a wheelchair rang up the house and asked if I would have a go at wheelchair basketball,” he said.
“I went down and had a go and I loved it.”
Ness said he was given the perfect opportunity at a good time.
“I was really lucky they didn’t have a centre in the WA team so they rushed me in even though I couldn’t really push a wheelchair,” he said.
“I just learnt the hard way.”
Ness admits it took a few “cruises” around local shopping centres to get the dodging aspect of the sport sorted leaving basket practice next on the list.
“If I had any spare time I was down at the courts throwing hoops,” he said.
Ness was selected to play for Australia in 1997 and since then has taken part in the 2000, 2004 and 2008 Paralympic Games.
His appearances for Australia gave him the opportunity to play wheelchair basketball in Europe, which he where he spends up to 10 months of the year.
“I have a house in Rome and have been playing in Europe for 11years,” he said.
“I can navigate myself around Singapore airport like the back of my hand and Los Angeles, Heathrow, etc.
“I spend a lot of time travelling around.”
With his wife of five years Giovanna and his mother as his biggest fans, Ness said his career is like a dream.
“I haven’t had a real job in 15 years,” he said.
“It is just surreal to have a gold medal; you can’t explain it.”
Ness said he is looking forward to captaining the side again to aim for gold in London and at 37, said there might not be another opportunity.
“I’m getting asked about that a lot [retirement] but at this stage I will wait until after the games.”